FO: winter wander shawl (in July)

We've hit the dog days of summer, y'all. My husband and son were both home all day feeling lethargic and run-down, either from the heat or some low-grade virus or a little of both. It's hot and soupy outside, the kind of weather where you feel yourself wilt just from going out to get the mail.

The FO I have to show you today isn't particularly seasonally appropriate. It's a lovely shawl, specifically the Winter Wander Shawl by Helen Stewart

This project includes so many elements that aren't typical for me. For one, it's a shawl. I don't knit many shawls because I don't often wear them, nor do I have recipients for them, were I to knit shawls as gifts.

For another thing, did you notice the little shiny things? Yes, this shawl has beads. Beads! I have never knit with beads before. I thought it would be hard, but it wasn't. A bit slow going and laborious, but not hard.

Also, lace. I love to look at lace, but I'm not particularly into knitting lace or wearing it. Mostly, this is because lace tends to be too fussy for me. If you make a mistake, it's slow and painstaking to fix. And the finished product, while lovely, is often too frilly for my taste.

Something about this design, though, hit the spot for me. It's simple enough to knit, with garter stitch and increases for most of it, with that beaded section to keep things interesting. And the finished item is lovely and fabulous while being rather understated, which is perfect for me.

I would give it a medium difficulty rating, even though it wasn't at all complicated, because if you screw up, it's nearly impossible to go back and fix. The increases along the edge are difficult to go back and redo (the designer explicitly states this in the pattern) and if you messed up the beaded section I don't know how on earth you would be able to fix it. 

In fact, I accidentally dropped a couple stitches in the middle of the beaded part and thought the whole project was done for. I said a few choice words and stormed off - it was very immature of me - before calming down and picking at it very carefully with a tiny crochet hook. The fix isn't perfect, but I can't even find it now on the finished shawl, and you wouldn't see it from a galloping horse, as they say. So I'm good with it.

I bought the beads from the Wisconsin Craft Market just for this project, but the yarn is from stash. I used Trekking Pro Natura (wool/bamboo blend) sock yarn - now discontinued - for the main section and KnitPicks Alpaca Cloud for the beaded strip. I've had both of these yarns for several years and never meant to put them together until I started looking for something for this project. I like how they go together. The sock yarn is a heathery navy blue, while the alpaca is more of a teal color.

Helen Stewart uses a percentage checklist system in her designs, where you can mark off every single row as you go, and keep track of how far into the project you've gotten along the way. It's so handy to know just exactly where you are in the pattern, even if you've put the project down for a few days, as I did several times while I was knitting this.

I knit this shawl in between other things - plain socks (not blogged yet, but I'll get there), the most recent test knit for Thea, and several sewing projects (again, not yet blogged), and having that checklist was quite reassuring. I always knew just exactly where I'd left off, and since it's in garter stitch, knowing when I was on the right side vs. wrong side was especially useful.

Pattern: Winter Wander Shawl by Helen Stewart, from the Knitvent 2015 collection
Yarn: Trekking Pro Natura and KnitPicks Alpaca Cloud, about 1/2 skein each
Needles: size 6 circulars (I used Addi Turbo lace)
Crochet hook: tiny one for beading
Beads: size 6/E something or other from Wi Craft Market, nothing special. They come in a tube, and I have a bunch leftover!


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